I saw Reggie for the first time in over 18 months in July (video above). Very
glad he is back!
Not long ago, Harlem High school had over 1400 students and Coach Kim Chambers' basketball teams were quite competitive, even advancing to the GHSA state tournament in 2006. But when Grovetown High School came into existence, the Columbia County lines were redrawn and the student body at Harlem has since shrunk to less than 700 students. The basketball team has suffered, even going winless in the 2009-2010 season. But four years ago, after Harlem had won 5 of its last 50 games over a 2 year period, Coach Chambers' luck turned. Freshman Reggie Reid joined the team and led the Bulldogs to 9 wins his first season and to a winning record (15-13) and a state tournament birth during his sophomore year. I featured him at the halfway point of his freshman in this story which included a highlight tape of Reggie. And AugBball was there as he scored 43 points and nearly led the Bulldogs to an upset of county rival Evans and later six days later led the Bulldogs to a thrilling 85-81 win over county rival Grovetown.
That was the last we saw of the speedy, high flying, physical 6'0" point guard. Reid left for Florida for his junior season. The word was he would learn from basketball training guru Gannon Baker of Nike/YouTube/basketball motivational speaker fame. Baker had started a basketball academy and Reid was supposedly his first big "recruit."
Well one thing I believe wholeheartedly is that most "basketball factories" are not worth young people's time. Most fail. And those that don't rarely serve any good purpose. Great basketball players become great with a ball and a hoop, not a secret training system, a tube of tennis balls, a resistance harness (or whatever these things are!), or even the hotly pursued chance for "more exposure." And balls and hoops are everywhere. Certainly surrounding factors play a role in the development of any young person, basketball player or not. But the real formula for achieving excellence was best stated recently by Lakeside Middle School's great philosopher Zachary Wade: you work until you puke (paraphrased).
I have coached against Reggie and been around him often throughout the years. I have never gotten to know him well personally. But his coaches think highly of him, his mother is dear, and everyone raves about his grades, his leadership qualities, and his sincere desire that his friends on his basketball teams are successful and able to count on him. I even heard he was homesick after leaving Georgia for Florida last year. These things make me like him and make me root for him.
Coach Chambers talks about the "private school feeling" of Harlem High School. Remember it is a school built to hold as many as 1400 and now holds less than 700. And remember when Grovetown arrived, a lot of students left. Over the years local basketball watchers have constantly said Reggie should leave Harlem. I've never agreed. I imagine Harlem is special to Reggie for many reasons, but mainly because it is home. It is a good home. And Harlem's teams can be good. Look at Coach Leverett's softball team if you don't believe me.
So I was thrilled to hear Reggie is back and will graduate from Harlem this year. And his and Coach Chambers' Bulldogs are my sleeper pick to make major noise in class AA hoops this year. As a young boy, Reggie was able to take a virtually winless program and turn it into a winning, state tournament qualifying team. and that was in a region with traditional local powers Laney, Westside's, and Josey as peers. Now the likes of Screvens County, Swainsboro (who I hear is very good), East Lauren's, and Metter stand in the way. I'm confident our adopted, and Harlem's own, hometown boy will help his teammates finish at or very near the top of region play. And I predict the Bulldogs will make more noise than ever at the state level. Because no matter the size of the student body, we only put 5 on the court at a time. And 1 guy can sometimes make all the difference. Reggie has proven he can be that difference maker. And in the comfort of his own home, I'm eager to see him do it again.
***Here are more posts from the blog about Reggie Reid and his Harlem Bulldogs, one of the 10 major story lines I am following this season.***
July 11, 2014
Dec 21, 2012
Dec 15, 2012
Jan 26, 2012
Dec 11, 2011
- by Ashley Brown in the Columbia News Times